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What do you use to search folders with 1000s of files. Surely not WinExplorer's default search and filter on Vista? If possible, something accessible from within the explorer shell. Else I'm open to any search tool that's consistent and allows me to perform actions on the search results (eg:open file, view file etc);

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closed as not constructive by Sathya Mar 31 '11 at 12:26

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Do you need to search for just the file names, or do you need to search their content too? This greatly affects the answer: if you only need to search file names, the Locate32 is definitely the best option, otherwise, one of the other options needs to be looked at. –  Charles Roper Jul 19 '09 at 22:03

8 Answers 8

up vote 10 down vote accepted

There is this open-source tool called locate32.exe which I keep handy.
I think it is a bit more easily configurable and probably slightly faster than the windows indexed search.

It works like updatedb and locate commands in Unix based systems. In other words, it uses databases to store information about directory structures and uses these databases in searches. The use of these databases provides very fast searching speed. The software includes a dialog based application as well as console programs which can be used to both update and access databases. Supported operation systems are Windows 98/ME/NT4/2000/XP/Vista.

I am starting to get quite fond of it.

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More screenshots and notes at the site.

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I love Locate32. It's so small and light and tight. It's not so good if you need to search the content of files, though. –  Charles Roper Jul 19 '09 at 22:01
Hrm, not sure I'm liking this one: I downloaded it, installed it, tried a search and it says "path was not found in database". So apparently it has to scan my drive before I can use it -- which seems like it's gonna take a while. So it may be great, but it's tossing up roadblocks really quickly. –  jcollum Dec 22 '10 at 18:31
Everything search engine is far better than locate32 in case your partition format is NTFS and your windows account has admin right. –  ITFan Dec 8 '11 at 17:33

Everything search engine is great. These features are from it's site and they are real...

  • Small installation file
  • Clean and simple user interface
  • Quick file indexing
  • Quick searching
  • Minimal resource usage
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I don't know why this isn't marked as correct. This would have to be the fastest search program. –  David Pearce Jul 20 '09 at 8:53
It only works on NTFS though... –  fretje Jul 20 '09 at 9:06
@fretje good point... –  spinodal Jul 20 '09 at 9:19
Well, the user did tag the question as windows-vista, and in my experience it's rare to find vista running on anything other than NTFS, so it's still a fairly valid answer. –  Annath Apr 9 '10 at 14:41
Searching in a specific directory is a pain: you have to type/paste in the directory path. Would be so much easier if there was a browse button. –  jcollum Dec 22 '10 at 18:38

Google Desktop Search has always been very fast for me (but I will admit I am not a very hardcore searcher of things on my system).

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I was going to try out GDS, but thought it better to leverage the SO hivemind to see what else was out there before I settled on anything. :-) –  facepalmd Jul 19 '09 at 17:58
GDS ended up being a resource hog for me. I removed it and my system was so much faster. –  jasonh Jul 19 '09 at 21:38
I've found GDS to be fastest for coping with lots of files. I've used GDS, Copernic and Windows Desktop Search on both XP and Vista extensively and have found GDS to be the fastest to return results by far. Disappointing interface, though. –  Charles Roper Jul 19 '09 at 21:59
Interesting. I've had hundreds of thousands of files on my system and it didn't seem to slow the built-in search in Vista or Windows 7. –  jasonh Jul 20 '09 at 0:49

What exactly doesn't work with Vista's search? As long as you've indexed what you search in it returns results very fast (in the order of at most 2 seconds on my machine here, for something around a few hundred thousand files in my profile).

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I get inconsistent results where files I know are there don't show up, but are visible if I drop to cmd and do a dir for it. Also a file that I have been unable to delete causes the search/filter to fail in that folder. Lastly it messes with my folder view every now and again which by the way is arranged by date-modified –  facepalmd Jul 19 '09 at 17:50
"As long as you've indexed what you search in": that's the problem... I've never been able to complete the indexation, as my machine was just not workable when that service was busy... I've even tried not working on it for a long time, but it seemed to remain in that state. That's why I had to disable the search index service on vista in my case... REALLY. NOT. WORKABLE. Now on windows7 on the other hand... haven't disabled anything and it runs smoothly as never before (on the same hardware). I really can't understand the people that say Vista isn't a resource hog! –  fretje Jul 20 '09 at 9:11

I don't know if it is the fastest solution, but I found copernic desktop search great: http://www.copernic.com/en/products/desktop-search/index.html

There's a free version for private/non-commercial use.

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If you need to search for regular expressions, PowerGREP is a great tool (not cheap, but worth it). In fact, I like it so much that I do my static text searches with it, too - and it's blazingly fast.

You can search any text file as well as Word, Excel, PDF, and binary files. Text replace operations will of course only work on text files (or binary files, if you really know what you're doing...

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Agent Ransack: i use it daily at job and it's lightning fast!

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Ava find, as soon as you type a character it will start returning any match and automatically updates with each added character, the downside is that it can't search inside mails or documents like the Windows search

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